Force Decisions
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Force Decisions

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142 pages
English

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Description

Cooperation, Compliance, Control.


In a free and peaceful society where so many have been taught that all violence is wrong, citizens are often confused and dismayed when officers use force, even when the force is perfectly lawful and justified.


This book allows you to 'take' a basic USE OF FORCE class just as if you were a rookie at the police academy. Below are some highlights of what is included in 'your' basic use of force class:


SECTION 1. TRAINING. I explain policy and laws that officers are taught. We examine use of force, how to define a threat, and the difference between excessive force and unnecessary force.


SECTION 2. CHECKS AND BALANCES. This section explains how an officer's decisions are examined if suspected of being bad decisions.


SECTION 3. EXPERIENCE. We explore how officers see the world that they live in. Somewhere in the fog between training and experience, the officer has to make a decision. Sometimes decisions will be made in a fraction of a second and on partial information. Sometimes a decision will change the lives of everyone involved—forever.


SECTION 4. ABOUT YOU. Review what you should have learned. Why does community action fail? What is it that can really be done? Know how to behave when faced by an officer. Until this section, I have tried to put you in the headspace of an officer, giving you an overview of his training and a taste of his experiences. Now I will try to let you feel like a suspect. That's a lot of mind bending for one book. Get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water.


Any civilian, law enforcement officer or martial artist interested in self-defense, or anyone wanting to understand the duties and responsibilities of civilians and police officers needs to read this book.


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Publié par
Date de parution 01 avril 2012
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781594392443
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0025€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Exrait

FORCE DECISIONS
A CITIZEN’S GUIDE
Force Decisions
A Citizen’s Guide
Understanding How Police Determine Appropriate Use of Force
Rory Miller
YMAA Publication Center, Inc.
Wolfeboro NH USA
YMAA Publication Center, Inc.
PO Box 480
Wolfeboro, NH 03894
800-669-8892 • www.ymaa.com • info@ymaa.com
Ebook edition ISBN: 978-1-59439-244-3
All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
Copyright ©2012 by Rory Miller
Cover design by Axie Breen
Editing by Karen Barr Grossman
Photos provided by the author
Publisher’s Cataloging in Publication
Miller, Rory Kane.
Force decisions: a citizen’s guide: understanding how police determine appropriate use of force / Rory Miller. —Wolfeboro, NH: YMAA Publication Center, c2012.
p.; cm.
ISBN: 978-1-59439-243-6 (pbk.); 978-1-59439-244-3 (ebk.)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Summary: This book allows you to ‘take’ a basic “use of force” police academy class, including training, checks and balances, experience, and review (from both the police and the suspect points of view).—Publisher.
1. Police discretion—United States. 2. Police training—United States. 3. Arrest (Police methods)—United States. 4. Self-defense (Law)—United States. 5. Restraint of prisoners—United States. 6. Justifiable homicide—United States. 7. Violence (Law)—United States. 8. Necessity (Law)—United States. 9. Tort liability of police—United States. 10. Police misconduct—United States. 11. Policecommunity relations—United States. I. Title. II. Title: Understanding how police determine appropriate use of force.
HV7936.D54 M55 2012 2012933335
363.2/32—dc23 1210
Warning: While self-defense is legal, fighting is illegal. If you don’t know the difference you’ll go to jail because you aren’t defending yourself, you are fighting—or worse. Readers are encouraged to be aware of all appropriate local and national laws relating to self-defense, reasonable force, and the use of weaponry, and act in accordance with all applicable laws at all times. Understand that while legal definitions and interpretations are generally uniform, there are small—but very important—differences from state to state. To stay out of jail, you need to know these differences. Neither the authors nor the publisher assumes any responsibility for the use or misuse of information contained in this book.
Nothing in this document constitutes a legal opinion nor should any of its contents be treated as such. While the authors believe that everything herein is accurate, any questions regarding specific self-defense situations, legal liability, and/or interpretation of federal, state, or local laws should always be addressed by an attorney at law. This text relies on public news sources to gather information on various crimes and criminals described herein. While news reports of such incidences are generally accurate, they are on occasion incomplete or incorrect. Consequently, all suspects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
When it comes to martial arts, self-defense, and related topics, no text, no matter how well written, can substitute for professional, hands-on instruction. These materials should be used for academic study only .
Contents
Acknowledgements
INTRODUCTION
About Me
About You
The Format of This Book
SECTION 1: TRAINING
1.1 The Bottom Line
1.2 The Three Golden Rules
Rule #1: You and your partners go home safely at the end of each and every shift
Rule #2: The criminal goes to jail
Rule #3: Liability free
1.3 The Duty to Act
Duty to Act When You Can’t Do Anything
1.4 The Goal
1.5 The Threat
Levels of Force
1.6 The Force Continuum
The Levels of the Force Continuum
Level 1: Presence
Level 2: Verbal
Level 3: Touch
Level 4: Pain Compliance and Physical Control
Level 5: Damage
Level 6: Deadly Force
1.7 Factors and Circumstances
1.8 The Threat Is in Control
1.9 Scaling Force
1.10 The Final Note
SECTION 2: NEITHER HERE NOR THERE
2.1 Checks and Balances
2.2 Skills Taught at the Academy
Use of Force
Defensive Tactics
Firearms
Baton, OC, and Taser
Confrontational Simulations (ConSim)
2.3 Force Law for Civilians
SECTION 3: EXPERIENCE
3.1 Types of Officers
Eager Rookie
The Lop
Average Joes
Meat Eaters
Posers
Burnouts
On Burning Out
3.2 Concrete Thinkers: The Dilemma
3.3 Dark Moments: Will You Act?
3.4 What Constitutes a Lethal Threat?
3.5 Feelings, Pain, Damage, and Death
3.6 The Nightmare Threat
3.7 No More Mr. Nice Guy
3.8 Cultural Differences
3.9 Altered States of Mind
3.10 The Threshold
3.11 It’s an Integrated World
3.12 Abuse of Power and Excessive Force
Questionable Force
Excessive Force
Unnecessary Force
3.13 Feelings of Betrayal
3.14 Totalitarianism
3.15 Interview with Loren Christensen
SECTION 4: ABOUT YOU
4.1 What You Didn’t Know Before
4.2 Police Relationships with the Community
4.3 Dealing with an Officer
4.4 An Outside Perspective
THE HARD TRUTHS
GLOSSARY
ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF FURTHER READING
Notes
Advance Praise for Force Decisions
Acknowledgements
I owe a debt of gratitude to a lot of people.
Loren Christensen, John Lupo, Jean Nichols, Sean Croft, Jim Sheeran, Lawdog MG, Eliel Hernandez, Frank Rodriguez (and the rest of the Pariah Dogs), Edward Raso, Jeff Gaynor, and George Mattson all graciously offered stories for this book. Be safe, all of you.
Most of them also helped with the manuscript, especially pointing out where I went off in my own private language. So did Rick Vogt, Melissa Williams, and Lawrence Kane. Good friends. Okay editors.
Donnla Nic Gearailt graciously offered to serve as a Subject Matter Expert on mental illness. Thank you.
That was about the book. The next is about me:
The officers who initially taught me Use of Force, especially Paul McRedmond (originator of the Three Golden Rules explained in section 1.2 ) and Ron Bishop, in my opinion, did an outstanding job. They had a truly encyclopedic knowledge of force policy and law, as well as deep experience with application.
Hundreds, if not thousands of officers and criminals over the years have also taught their particular lessons. We were not always friends, but I still thank them.
The indomitable Kami, wise and beautiful, who has held me when I bled or wanted to cry, has kept me sane through everything.
This one’s for Mac.
Introduction
This book is a gift, a peace offering. It is an attempt to communicate across a vast gulf in culture and experience, the gulf that exists between the Law Enforcement community and those whom they protect.
Each day, media outlets all over the country describe events where officers use force. Often, the reporters and the citizens question the need for force at all or whether the type and amount of force used was really necessary. Citizens worry that their protectors—with badges, guns, clubs and Tasers ® —are caught up in the rush of power, or perhaps giving vent to anger or bigotry.
The officers are frustrated too. Specialists in dealing with a world that is sometimes very dark and very violent, they feel scrutinized. They feel as if their actions are constantly under a microscope, judged by a populace without any experience or training in a very specialized field.
In this book, I want to show you how officers think about force, not only how we are trained to think of it, but also how experience shapes our beliefs and attitudes.
If you are one of the people who believe that officers are thugs and question each and every use of force, I don’t want to change you. Let me say that again: I don’t want to change you. Sometimes my job requires me to use force on behalf of society, on your behalf. That force should be subject to your scrutiny.
What I do want, if you have objections, is to have those objections based on facts and not emotion. Most people will have a negative reaction to any violence, and some problems (from child-raising to the boardroom to politics and medicine and…) simply don’t have an answer that makes everyone comfortable.
You know what you saw or read. You know how that made you feel. The final data that you need to back up your reasonable objections are knowledge of the rules—to understand thoroughly the legal and policy limits as well as the tactical considerations that the professionals understand.
There are truths and perceptions that frame this gulf. First, the perceptions: We have all been taught that peace is an ideal, and that hurting people is wrong. We have also been taught, in an egalitarian society, that what is wrong for one is wrong for all. And what is wrong to do to someone is wrong to do to anyone.
The truth, however, is harsh. It is this: The only defense against evil, violent people is good people who are more skilled at violence.

HARD TRUTH #1
The only defense against evil, violent people is good people who are more skilled at violence.
Throughout history, civilized people faced with people willing to use violence to attain their goals have tried a number of strategies.
Appeasement has failed. The hope that Hitler would be satisfied with Poland and Czechoslovakia only gave him more time to prepare. Bribery has failed, and paying off terrorists to prevent terrorism has been no more effective than Danegeld—money paid to Vikings to stop plundering. Reason and logic could not prevent the Khmer Rouge from killing every educated person in Cambodia. Simply being a good person couldn’t dissuade the Inquisition.
Ah, but there is always Gandhi…
Not really. Without a relatively free press, a lot of publicity, and an opponent who needed support (both from voters and from trading partners), Gandhi would have quietly disappeared. Where were the Gandhis of Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Stalin’s Russia, or Ceasescu’s Romania? Prague Spring—an attempt by the Czechs to create “socialism with a human face”—was ruthlessly crushed by the soviets.
The ideal of peaceful resistance only works when backed by the big guns of public opinion and economics, and only then if those two things matter to the person or institution that one is trying to change.
This is a hard truth: In a truly totalitarian environment the authorities cannot only kill, but they have control over who finds out about it (communications and the media) and have control over the means to respond (control of economics, the vote and/or personal weapons). When these factors come together the populace is helpless, and the tactics of peaceful resistance result in death, torture, and the disappearance of family members.

HARD TRUTH #2
In a truly totalitarian environment where the authorities cannot only kill, but have control over who finds out about it and, have control over the means to respond, the populace is helpless.
This is the world: The wolf pack tears at a caribou, slashing at hamstrings, tearing out guts. Raw, primal violence. The caribou will run if it can, but if it can’t, it will respond as best it can with violence of its own, kicking and goring the pack.
A cat toys with a mouse. The mouse may bite you if you try to save it.
Some predators stalk, some run in packs, some lie in ambush. All predators use violence as a strategy, the easiest and safest way to access a resource that they need or want.
Human predators are the same.
If a person can do so safely, it is easier to steal food than to grow it. It is easier to beat the weak into submission than to earn their respect. It is far easier to rape and abandon a woman than it is to raise children. All provided it can be done safely . Society, or someone acting on behalf of society, must make that kind of behavior unsafe.
A peaceful individual is ill-prepared to deal with a violent human being. The tactics of the courtroom, the boardroom, or the mediator simply don’t work on someone who wants something and has no problem injuring someone to take it. A peaceful society compounds this by allowing the peaceful individuals to believe that their worldview is normal. It is a beautiful ideal but for most of human history, and in many places now, and even within individuals in the most civilized of societies, it doesn’t hold true. There are people for whom violence is a natural way to get what they want.

Violence and crime will probably never disappear, for practical reasons. The rarer they become, the less experience and skill potential victims will have to combat them. The less violence and crime happens, the less it factors into planning, and the less people take care to protect themselves.
So the more rare violence is, the more profitable and safe violence becomes.
Crime and violence are usually an individual advantage , but they weaken the connections that keep society going and are a community disadvantage .
Civilized people must come to terms with the fact that only force, or the credible threat of force, could stop a Hitler, a Pol Pot, or a John Dillinger.
It’s often been said, “Violence never solved anything.” The simple truth is that when you are slammed up against the wall and the knife is at your throat, when a circle of teenagers is kicking you as you curl into a ball on the sidewalk, or when the man walks into your office building or school with a pair of guns and starts shooting—only violence, or the reasonable threat of violence, is going to save your life. In the extreme moment, only force can stop force.

HARD TRUTH #3
In the extreme moment, only force can stop force.
That’s the truth, and in it lies the first problem:
Given that only violence can stop violence, and given that a modern, affluent, egalitarian society requires a certain amount of peace and trust to operate, who will be responsible for wielding this violence-stopping violence?
In caste systems throughout the world, there is a warrior caste with the power to make war externally and visit justice internally. In European history, the nobility of the medieval period were professional fighters responsible both for war abroad and for justice on their own lands.
There were problems inherent in this model. What we consider an “abuse of power” had no meaning to the medieval mind. The lord had the power and could use it as he saw fit. Only a more powerful lord could intervene and only as far as he felt the force available to him would carry the day.
Modern societies have been forced to work with both the fact that force is sometimes necessary and the social belief that force is inherently wrong—the “last resort of the ignorant.” The modern solution has been to create professions, soldiers and police, authorized to use force in the name of and for the benefit of society as a whole.
Looked at shallowly, this seems to present a paradox. If a John Wayne Gacy or Jeffrey Dahmer (serial killers and rapists, and Dahmer a cannibal) handcuffs someone and takes them against their will to another place, it is kidnapping. When an officer does it, it is an arrest. When a citizen shoots another citizen, it is usually murder. When an officer shoots someone, it is closely scrutinized, but it is usually an ‘incident,’ not a crime.
The analogy doesn’t hold true all the time. Most of the time, officers are expected to act like citizens—follow traffic laws, respect other people’s property, and not randomly blaze away with their handguns.
But when law enforcement officers are being enforcement officers, it isn’t a ‘most of the time’ situation. The standard social rules, the way that life and people are expected to be, have already failed or started the downhill slide. ‘Most of the time’ people respect each other’s persons and property. ‘Most of the time’ people can be reasoned with and will do the right thing. ‘Most of the time’ you don’t need the cops.
Referees in any sport are not and cannot be held to the same standards as players. They have to do things players aren’t supposed to do, such as confront other players and sometimes eject them from the game.
When you do need officers to respond, it is because the social rules, the way most of us agree things should be , are being ignored. Someone has decided to act the way he wants to instead of the way he should. It is unlikely that the social corrections will work when people are already off the social map.
About Me
That’s the ‘why’ of the book. This is what I bring to the table:
For seventeen years, I was a corrections officer and sergeant working booking, maximum security, and mental health units. During that time, I trained corrections and enforcement officers * primarily in force-related skills, like defensive tactics (hand-to-hand fighting and arrest techniques) and force policy.
Working direct supervision corrections (and especially booking) exposes a young officer to a wide variety of ‘difficult people.’ I was told early in my career that two years in booking would result in more experience with hand-to-hand fighting than a career in enforcement. I don’t know if that is true. I do know that I have instructed a group of enforcement officers with 180 years of cumulative experience and had more force incidents than all of them combined.
In the course of my duties, I spent more than a decade on the Tactical Team, much of that as the team leader. We were the ones who got called when no one else felt confident about handling the situation. I was trained (but did not serve) as a Hostage Negotiator. I was, for a time, the sergeant designated to handle problems with mentally ill inmates.
That much exposure was a powerful incentive to understand the rules of force as well as to investigate ways to avoid it.
I have also worked as an Internal Affairs investigator and as a contract advisor for the Iraqi federal corrections service.
About You
In an egalitarian society, the basic rules for how much force is legal are the same for officers as for civilians. The big differences come into play based on when and how force is used. A civilian who can walk away would not (should not, in most jurisdictions) use force, whereas an officer with a Duty to Act may have no choice. In cases of self-defense, citizens need to use force primarily to safely escape. Taking someone into custody requires different skills and entails different risks.
That will be covered in more detail later.
As much as possible I will put you inside the head of an officer—as a rookie at the academy in the first section, to growing into a veteran officer in the third. Every officer has been a civilian. Few civilians have ever been officers. Try it on for size.
The Format of This Book
This book is divided into two main sections with two smaller sections.
The first , “Training,” shows what officers learn and how they are taught to think about Force. It will essentially be an introductory Use of Force class as it would be taught in many police academies. There will be some differences. Different jurisdictions have different policies. Another instructor might not emphasize what I do. What you will read in section one is almost exactly what you would experience if you were a rookie I was training.
Section two is a bridge. At the Academy, Use of Force is taught in a complicated web of other skills: gathering and preserving evidence, relevant law, driving, report writing, cross-cultural communication, etc.
You won’t get that matrix of skills from a single book or even a dozen. There are a few things officers are taught that do pertain directly to force decisions and some things that will help you, as a civilian, put things in context. There will be an overview of how much time the officers spend on force skills, such as shooting and defensive tactics, at the academy.
Section two will also cover what happens when an officer is accused of breaking the rules. There will also be a short section on how self-defense law differs for civilians, in case you are interested.
The third section , “Experience,” will describe how officers begin to see the world that they live in and how they feel about it.
It is artificial to separate training from experience, and there will be many places where I wish the human brain could read two things at once and blend and contrast them. There are some things taught in training (such as the difference between levels of force and levels of resistance) that often don’t make sense, even to officers, until they come in contact with the real world. There are other issues, such as ‘active shooter’ tactics, where the doctrine flies in the face of experience.
Somewhere in the fog between training and experience, the officer has to make a decision. Sometimes the decision will be made in a fraction of a second on partial information. Sometimes the decision will change the lives of everyone involved forever.
The last section is a short piece about applying what you have read. It will probably hurt your feelings, since in much of it I will talk to you as if you were a suspect. Try to keep an open mind anyway. The easy part will cover what you should have learned. The hard parts will be about why community action fails and what can really be done—which is hard work and risk, not meetings and press conferences—and how you should behave when faced by an officer.
You are already a citizen and have your own experiences and points of view. In the bulk of the book, I will try to put you in the headspace of an officer to give you an overview of his training and a taste of his experience. In the very last section , I will try to let you feel like a suspect. That’s a lot of mind-bending for one book. Get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water.
Section 1: Training
I took my initial Use of Force training a very long time ago. There were a couple of hours of pre-service training when we were hired, some on-the-job training, and then the academy. We were given refresher training, usually one hour, at our annual in-service training after that.
Use of Force gets trained a lot because it is one of the “high-liability” subjects—the things that agencies commonly get sued over. It needs to be pounded into recruits and senior officers alike because high-speed judgments under stress are the meat of the job. Most of the rest of the things we do could be done by others—there’s a lot of community service, helping stranded motorists, a lot of giving directions. Some counseling. Lots and lots of writing reports.
But the thing we do that others don’t is face down angry, enraged, and often armed people. If the average person has trouble telling a salesman ‘No,’ he will have far more trouble telling an enraged meth addict swinging a chain ‘No.’ That’s the job. And it’s not enough to merely stop the bad guy. Most times anyone with a shotgun could stop anybody else. It is doing it in such a way that no one is offended, and that is hard because any use of force looks shocking to the uninitiated.
1.1 The Bottom Line
Everything that comes later will revolve around this concept. This is the basic tenet of using force for both civilians and officers:
You are expected and required to use the minimum level of force that you reasonably believe will safely resolve the situation.
Almost every word in that sentence is a legal concept.
A civilian is expected to use the minimum force—no more—that is necessary to resolve the situation. The officer, however, may be required to use that level of force. This hinges on the “Duty to Act,” a concept that will be discussed at length in section 1.3 .
The minimum level of force will be discussed in section 1.6 , “The Force Continuum.”
‘Reasonably believe’ can be very subjective, and there is a lot of case law trying to narrow it down. In any situation there is an almost infinite number of things that can happen: decisions that can be made, actions that can be taken. The reasonable person rule requires that whatever decision was made falls within the ballpark of what another reasonable person (ideally the jury members) might have done.
The rule is slightly different for Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs). The ‘reasonable person’ is exchanged for the ‘reasonable officer’ rule. The courts recognize that the difference in training and experience between an average reasonable citizen and an experienced officer can be vast. An officer who has been in a hundred fights will not see the situation the same way as a citizen who had one fight in junior high school, thirty years ago.
Further, courts and sensible people everywhere acknowledge that the officer can only be responsible for what he could have reasonably known at the time. He will never know if the three-hundred-pound man trying to take his gun has a heart condition, or that the drug dealer running from him is basically a nice person. He cannot fight differently or choose different ways to avoid fighting based on things he doesn’t know.
Monday-morning quarterbacks and armchair generals are clichés in our society. The academic expert on application of force is no more credible.
Officers “are often required to make split-second judgments—in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving—about the amount of force that is necessary…” *

HARD TRUTH #4
Sometimes an officer will be forced to make a decision in a fraction of a second on partial information where the BEST choice will leave a corpse, a widow, two orphans, and someone who needs therapy.
Listen up, recruit—
You will make mistakes. A lot of them. You will have only the information you can gather in a few seconds and you will act on that partial information in a heartbeat. Almost every time, you will make the best decision you could have made. You will, however, be judged by people who have the leisure and resources to do research.
Where you saw a man acting angry, confused and ignoring your attempts to communicate, they will identify, perhaps, a deaf man who was despondent over a lost job or a family illness.
When he swung his fist at you and you had to decide what to do in a fraction of a second, the theorists will have hours or even days to think of a response that they believe would have worked ‘better’—that is, more safely and more effectively. From their point of view, with these advantages in time and knowledge, almost every decision you make can be called a mistake.
You will make mistakes, by their standards and by your own standards as well. As your instructors, we will do what we can to make sure that you make these mistakes safely, in training.
Training is the place for mistakes.
Years ago, we designed and ran a “Confrontational Simulations” course. In a ConSim course, the goal is to present realistic, high-stress situations and force the student to make hard decisions under extreme pressure. The goal of this particular class was to bring Corrections Officers, who were accustomed to being unarmed in a relatively controlled environment, up to speed on decisions and survival skills when they were working fully armed and outside the jail.

Many of the scenarios were intense: walking into armed robberies, former inmates wanting attention (good or bad), assassination attempts on high-profile offenders. Some were designed to draw a bad decision: in one case, exactly mimicking the assassination attempt, the ‘threat’ was a reporter with a microphone.
One scenario was just an elderly lady crying on a park bench. The officers were good and compassionate people. Most who went through the scenario spent endless energy trying to engage her in conversation, or provide some sort of help. The goal of the scenario was to remind the officers that not everything is their problem.
One of the officers, who shall remain nameless, asked and talked and even pled with the old woman. He finally ordered her to quit crying and tell him what was wrong. She continued to howl and sob. He repeated the order. She kept crying.
He pulled his pepper spray and hosed her down!
We ended the scenario. The officer then had to turn to a jury of his peers (the other officers taking the course) and justify his actions. He couldn’t, of course. No reasonable officer would have done anything similar.
Neither would this officer, in real life. The situation was designed to ramp up his adrenaline. Even more, in the class setting he thought, with impeccable logic, that given a problem, his job was to find a solution. When everything else failed (and only when everything else failed), he tried force. It never occurred to him, in a classroom setting, that he was allowed to walk away, that not every situation is a situation requiring action.

You are expected and required to use the minimum level of force that you reasonably believe will safely resolve the situation.
‘Safely’ is very specific, and something hard for people raised on western movies and concepts of fair-play to grasp. I’ll hit it again in section 1.2 on the “Three Golden Rules,” but you deserve a taste here.
Real violence, real fighting, and real applications of force are not games. There is no reset button. There are no do-overs. A professional in this situation cannot afford some misguided idea of chivalry or fair play. Were the officer to indulge in that illusion, the bad guy would win half the time and go on to victimize more of the innocents the officer is sworn to protect.

At the swearing-in ceremony, when the Chief handed me my badge he said, “Once you pin this on, you are never allowed to lose. Never.”

The more force you use, the safer it is for you. Do the math. The threat * comes at you with no weapon, and you may try to wrestle with him and you might win. Or you may hit him upside the head and you may win. Or you could hit him with a club and you will probably win. Or you could pull a knife or gun and almost certainly win. The higher the level of force you use, the safer for you.
The key is that you must judge the lowest level that will safely work. An experienced officer with decades in martial arts specialized in joint locks could handle many things, safely , at a lower level than other officers.
So, officer or civilian, you do not go into a situation at the level of force in which you believe you might prevail. You go into it as hard as you need to in order to go home safely.
‘Safely,’ as you see, modifies ‘minimum level.’ It is one short sentence, but it gets very complicated, especially in application.
Lastly, to ‘resolve the situation’ can mean something different in almost any encounter. The level of force needed to stop a man from kicking another man to death may be different from the level of force necessary to stop a sniper from pulling a trigger, and will definitely be different from the force needed to get handcuffs on a drunk and drive him to detox. The goals of a Use of Force (broadly to gain compliance or get control) are extremely variable, and that modifies everything.

You are expected and required to use the minimum level of force that you reasonably believe will safely resolve the situation.
1.2 The Three Golden Rules

1. You and your partners go home safely at the end of each and every shift
2. The criminal goes to jail
3. Liability free
The three golden rules, first written by Dep. Paul McRedmond of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, must be the basis of all officer training. The fact that they exist, that they are explicitly taught, and that they needed to be stated so clearly says something about the profession.
Rule #1: You and your partners go home safely at the end of each and every shift
In most professions, staying alive and uninjured during the workday is more or less expected. Statistically, this is true for officers also. Most days, most go home fine. But some days, they don’t. They are paid to sometimes deal with less-than-fully-socialized people in volatile situations. Officers are expected to walk (or run) into places where people with more common sense are running away.
Rule #1 is a pipe dream. The only safe way to do the job is to NOT do the job. Some officers do use this strategy and get away with it. We’ll talk about Lops in “Experience,” section three . The essence of Rule #1 is not to make the job any riskier than it is. Don’t take stupid chances.
You might die, but you should never die because of your own stupidity or bravado. You should never get your partner killed because you couldn’t keep your ego in check. And you should never, ever, die in such a way that other agencies use it for training films.
A short list of things to remember:

• You are not Superman and bullets do not bounce off you. This is one of the Hollywood Effects. By the time you join a police agency, you have watched thousands of hours of television. In the television world, being the good guy seems to magically protect you from serious injury. This isn’t true. We all know it isn’t true, but seeing it a thousand times can hit the brain at a very deep level and rookies often act like it is true.
• Keep your ego in check. This is a job, not an identity. Criminals will try to bait you, or try to make you angry. If you lose control, they can manipulate the situation. It is your job to manipulate the situation. You have to do everything in your power to stay above the game, so that you can see and think clearly.
• Never take it (almost anything) personally. You are going to be interacting with people on their worst days. They will be angry, frightened, and indignant. It’s not about you. If someone needs to get his sense of masculinity back by calling you names, stay cool. It’s better than if he gets it back by beating his wife or children, which might be his normal method.
• Don’t get too excited to watch your back. This is a hard one to teach and a hard one to do. When the adrenaline hits, you will get tunnel vision and physically be unable to see things in your peripheral vision. Another factor is that attention is naturally drawn to the point of action or the greatest perceived threat. You will want to look at what is going on. Sometimes it will be your job to make sure no one comes up from behind. Even if it isn’t, make a conscious decision to look around and see if the situation has changed.
• Do not compete with criminals. You do not have to show that you are more manly than a wife beater. You do not have to be more clever than a con man.
• You are not alone. Long nights on solo patrol it is easy to forget that you are part of a team. You have a radio, use it.
• More than that, not just in the day-to-day stuff but also in a serious crisis, you are not alone . Your agency has decades or centuries of experience to draw from. Never be afraid to ask for advice or guidance, or just tips on how to do a better job.
• You have a radio for a reason. That ties into the above. Just add—don’t get lazy. Call in every stop. Just because the last three hundred stops went fine is no indication that the next one will. Someone needs to know where you are and what you are doing. You will use the radio far more than you will use any weapon or force option. Get good at it.
• It is not a game. There is no ref, no time limit, and the stakes are higher than any game. Do not go into this thinking in contest terms. The job gets done. There is no “I’ll be the best cop I can, and he’ll be the best crook he can, and we’ll see who wins.” There is no ‘see who wins.’ You get the job done. You are not permitted to lose or draw. You have a responsibility to the citizens.
• You don’t need to prove your masculinity. I think I’ve said this three different ways now. Sinking in?
You have a responsibility to keep yourself safe. You have a job to do and you cannot do it if you are dead or injured. A dead officer is not just a heroic or tragic icon, a dead officer is also a wasted resource.
The most succinctly I have ever heard this concept explained was at Combat Medic training at Fort Sam Houston. The instructors drilled a simple truth into our heads: A dead medic never saved anybody. This simple truth is just as true for officers.
An officer who gets himself killed or seriously injured becomes part of the problem. He can’t help anyone else. He can’t save the damsel in distress. Worse, the people needed to save the damsel now need to allocate resources to saving the stupid guy too.
When an officer gets killed in the line of duty training units and individual officers all over the country will try to find out what happened in as much detail as possible. Hoping to find out where the officer made a mistake. Mistakes can be fixed. Bad luck can’t.

Long ago, an officer and friend sent a message out into cyberspace. A friend of his had been killed. The friend was a good officer: fit, alert, well-trained, good judgment. Everything you would want in an officer and a partner. He had come around a corner and been shot in the face. Game over.
When an officer dies, we always hope it was a mistake, because we might be able to protect ourselves and our rookies from a mistake. Getting our heads blown off coming around a corner…not much you can do.
The Immutable Order was originally codified for hostage rescue. It is a cold and logical assessment of who is more important—the officer, the hostage, the bystanders, or the threat. It is not about love or duty or nobility, but simply a cold look at goals and resources.
The operator (officer)’s safety comes first because the officer is needed to save the hostages. If the officer becomes a casualty, not only is he out of the equation but also every other operator, accessory, and piece of equipment needed to save him cannot help to save the hostages.
Second come the hostages. They are the reason for being there.
Third come the bystanders and civilians. Yes, they are important. Yes, they shouldn’t be hurt…but they also shouldn’t be there at all. They should be safely away. Unlike the hostages, the bystanders have a choice and have some responsibility if stray bullets or collapsing buildings come their way.
Lastly are the hostage takers. All life is precious and all that, but the bad guys (BG) created the situation. The primary job is making sure that no citizen dies for the BG’s anger, greed, or stupidity. If the only way to ensure that is with the death of the bad guy…sorry, pal. You should have made a different choice.
Putting the officer first seems cold and it is—but do the math.
The “Immutable Order” is not a statement of value. It is not saying that the life of the officer is more valuable than the lives of the hostages. It is the way the resources, goals, and obstacles must be prioritized in order to get the job done. If an officer in a hot patrol area really valued his own life over even random strangers, he wouldn’t be in this business.

At the Columbine School shooting, the first responding officers started to go in and were called back by cooler-headed administrators. They were told to do what policy said: Set up a perimeter and wait for the SWAT team. More children died while they waited.
There was a huge outcry from citizens, the media, politicians, and even the officers themselves. Doctrine was changed, and, almost nationwide, the current standard for an active shooter scenario is to go in, immediately, with the first four officers on the scene. (This is changing too, and some agencies are experimenting with going in with the first officer or first pair on the scene.)
Everyone involved felt like they were doing the right thing: The first officers followed their instincts—very little hits you harder at a gut level than someone killing kids. The administrators who called them back were doing what they had trained, and what they had been taught was the best solution. The citizens and politicians and media were rightly outraged, and demanded change, and they got it.
But I have trained this scenario a lot—usually playing the bad guy. Every time, EVERY TIME, all of the responding officers die, * and I am free to go back to shooting kids. But it’s policy now, and that makes it officially the right thing to do.
This example isn’t about politics, or who is right, or who is wrong. It is about something you will see every day on the job—screwed-up situations where every last person involved is trying to do the right thing. I’ve trained the scenario. I know the officers die. But in my heart, I’m with the first group of officers who went in anyway.
Rule #2: The criminal goes to jail
This isn’t worded the same for all branches of law enforcement. For Corrections, the criminal stays in jail. For Parole and Probation, you try to prevent the criminal victimizing more people. For bailiffs, you keep the courtroom under control.
The essence is that you have a job to do. Do the job. Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes it’s boring and sometimes it’s terrifying and sometimes you don’t care. Tough. Do the job.
This is an easy job to burnout on. You see the worst of humanity at its worst. People lie to you. Even people who are good people get a little nervous when talking to cops and they try to make themselves sound better. It’s human nature to distrust and even dislike people who lie to you.
Dealing with the victims will hit you harder than dealing with the predators. Sometimes a predator is so cold as to seem alien. He or she can shake your assumptions about what it means to be human. You will meet predators who do not distinguish between a mate, a child, and a toy: They are all just possessions to be used. It will bother you, but it doesn’t hurt. Dealing with the victims, with the tears and blood, will hurt. Sometimes, it will seem easier to quit paying attention, to quit caring.
Rule #2 is simple. (Don’t forget that Rule #1 is the prerequisite—If you are injured or dead, you can’t do the job.) Do the job. Do it well. Do it like a professional. Not like a crusader. Definitely not like a self-righteous, angry prick. No matter how you feel, do a professional job. You get more convictions that way.
These concepts have to be hammered into new recruits hard and are an integral part of training. Most rookies come to the job with a hero complex. They want to save the world. They want to make a difference.
That’s great. One of the big goals of training is to preserve these dreams but implant the practical skills necessary to make the dreams work.

HARD TRUTH #5
You can’t achieve a dream by dreaming.
Training will never be quite right. It will never be enough—not enough to ensure that all the rookies will make good decisions or even that all the rookies will survive. All of us come to the job with assumptions built into the image of doing the right thing . We think that if we save a life, it will be a good person or an innocent child, and they will be grateful, and the world will be a better, safer place. We aren’t ready for saving a bum from drowning, and having him complain because we let him get wet. We aren’t prepared for the day we actually stop a rape in progress, and the rapist sues because his neck or elbow hurt afterwards.
Once in a great while, you will hear, “Thank you.”
This is the real secret: The people who do this job well for a long time don’t do it for the rewards or the recognition. They don’t do it (after the first year or two) for the rush. They don’t even do it to make the world a better place.
They do it because they can and most people can’t. Every shattered body they see, every terrifying brawl in the dark, and every interminable wait for blood tests to see if they have been exposed to a disease that might change or end their lives, are experiences that no one else needs to have.
Rookies need to learn to do the job, and do it like a professional, not like a TV hero. That way lies madness.
Rule #3: Liability free
Litigation is a hallmark of modern society. From their earliest training, officers are taught to fear lawsuits. They are taught that anything they do can be twisted in court, and cost them their house, their savings, and their retirement.
In reality, that is rarely the case. As long as the officer stays within his or her agency policy and law, any liability stays with that agency. Reality doesn’t make the fear any less real. In the excellent book, Deadly Force Encounters, Alexis Arwohl and Loren Christensen point out that in actual shootings, with bullets flying at them and their lives in imminent peril, officers were almost universally plagued with the thought, “I’m gonna get sued.” That’s not a thought you can afford when your life is on the line.
There has been a sea change since I started in this profession. Years ago, there was a presumption that the officers were the good guys and the criminal was the bad guy. It seems to a lot of officers that this has changed.
One of the ways it has affected the job is in how reports were written. When I started this job, I was specifically told that when we used force, the reports were to be as minimal as possible. I was told, “What you don’t put in, they can’t use against you.” “They,” of course, were civil litigation attorneys, internal affairs…anyone who might have a reason to scrutinize what you did. We also were often told to write reports only on incidents that were likely to result in scrutiny—“No blood, no foul.”
It was wrong and must have made it much easier to cover abuses when they did happen…but thinking had already begun to change. Attorneys are smart and they fully understand that there are lies of omission as well as commission. Now, the reports are expected to be excruciatingly thorough, to cover everything you did and everything you saw. It was a big change, but it resulted in an important lesson.
The key to Rule #3, to being successful in litigation, or prevent litigation altogether is to make good decisions, to carry them out properly, and then to write a damn good report. Failure at any one of these three steps can really hurt you.
Making good decisions has two different meanings. Most officers, most of the time, make good decisions because they are good people. That holds true for anyone. When a decision must be made in a split second that decision will be based on who you are . Somewhere in the balance of fear and internal ethics, the person will make a decision (or fail to make a decision). Good, ethical people make good, ethical decisions.
Good decision-making is also a product of training, experience, and good policy. As much as officers need to be taught how to drive in an emergency, how to shoot, how to preserve evidence, and a thousand other things, they also have to be taught how to think, how to prioritize what they see, and how to make decisions. This will all be refined and expanded with experience.
Good policy is critical as well. One private company that regularly deals with violent mentally ill people has decided that they can’t be sued for hugging. The company has made it policy that the only self-defense technique allowed is to hug the attacker until he or she calms down. The environment is not designed for security and the clients have access to a number of things that can be altered to become weapons. Hugging someone trying to stab you is one of the less effective options. A bad policy, and this is a very bad policy, can put the employee in the position of following the rules or dying.
Carrying out your decisions properly is a matter of training. Knowing what to do is not the same as knowing how to do it. As an example, an agency that allows punching in their force continuum must train the officers in how to punch, or they will be sending officers to the hospital with broken hands. That violates the first golden rule.
Then, whatever your decision and action, you must write it well . You must be able to explain to your peers, superiors, and, if necessary, a jury exactly what you did; why you did it; and why it was the best option. Federal Air Marshall Guthrie says, “Your report can’t make a bad shoot good, but it can make a good shoot bad.”
No matter how much you twist or massage the words of your report, you can’t turn a bad decision into a good decision. Maybe you can fool some people, but it is still a bad decision. Like polishing a turd, it still stinks.
A bad report can sink you. Doing the right thing for the wrong reason can change a heroic act to a crime. “He was going to hit the baby with the hammer so I shot him,” is justified. “He was an ass, so I shot him,” is homicide.
Using a higher level of force might require explaining why a lower level of force would not have worked: “I was too far away to tackle the suspect before he hit the baby with the hammer. I had no choice but to fire my weapon.”
Make a good decision. Execute it properly. Write a good report.
The Three Golden Rules

1. You and your partners go home safely at the end of each and every shift
2. The criminal goes to jail
3. Liability free
1.3 The Duty to Act
Let’s say you, as a citizen, see someone in your front yard, acting strangely, staring and shouting and singing songs about John Lennon and Satan. Instead of calling 911, you go out on your front porch and yell, “Hey! What are you doing? Get out of my yard!” The Emotionally Disturbed Person (EDP) takes off and runs.
As a citizen, you’ve solved the problem. He may be in somebody else’s yard, but he’s not in yours. You aren’t responsible for him or for his actions.
As an officer, you have a duty to act. This can be really specific or really vague, depending on the policies of an individual agency and current tactical training. Once an issue comes to the officer’s attention, the officer is not only responsible for what he does, but for what happens if he chooses to do nothing.
Crazy guy runs and leaves a citizen’s yard because the citizen yelled. Fine. Crazy guy then slaughters a few people at the neighbor’s house: No liability or responsibility to the citizen.
The officer has to think of consequences—crazy, running guy might launch himself in front of a bus. Or hurt someone else. Or be wanted for a previous crime. Or desperately need psychiatric meds.
This is just an example, but the officer will respond to clues inherent in the scenario. Most people don’t run at the approach of an officer, hence it’s reasonable to believe that if someone runs, there is a reason. The subject might have a mental stability issue, in which case the officer may need to get medical help. Or the runner may have a warrant out for his arrest (no one wants to be the officer/agency who let a wanted felon go because they didn’t take the time to check for warrants). It may be because he has weapons or drugs on him that he is afraid they will find…
So the officer chases, and it is reasonable. Furthermore, if he wants to do the job, he has no choice.

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